GAO Glossary of Terms and Definitions (September 2005)

Antideficiency Act

Federal law that

  • prohibits the making of expenditures or the incurring of obligations in advance of an appropriation;
  • prohibits the incurring of obligations or the making of expenditures in excess of amounts available in appropriation or fund accounts unless specifically authorized by law (31 S.C. § 1341(a));
  • prohibits the acceptance of voluntary or personal services unless authorized by law (31 S.C. § 1342);
  • requires the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), via delegation from the President, to apportion appropriated funds and other budgetary resources for all executive branch agencies (31 S.C. § 1512);
  • requires a system of administrative controls within each agency (see 31 U.S.C. § 1514 for the administrative divisions established);
  • prohibits incurring any obligation or making any expenditure in excess of an apportionment or reapportionment or in excess of other subdivisions established pursuant to sections 1513 and 1514 of title 31 of the United States Code (31 S.C. § 1517); and
  • specifies penalties for deficiencies (see Antideficiency Act Violation).

The act permits agencies to reserve funds (that is, withhold them from obligation) under certain circumstances. (See also Administrative Division or Subdivision of FundsAntideficiency Act ViolationApportionmentBudgetary ReservesDeferral of Budget AuthorityDeficiency Apportionment; ExpenditureFund AccountingCongressional Budget and Impoundment Control Act of 1994Outlay.)

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Antideficiency Act Violation